Meet the world's new most powerful supercomputer

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Meet the world's new most powerful supercomputer
Source: Jack Dongarra, Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Chinese ten-million core Sunway TaihuLight top dog.

A Chinese system has once again taken the title of the fastest supercomputer on the Top500 list, with the Sunlight TaihuLight dethroning former champion the Tianhe-2 with a new Linpack benchmark score of 93 petaflops.

Built with 40,960 compute nodes boasting a total of 10,649,600 processing cores, the Sunlight TaihuLight is three times as fast as the Tianhe-2.

It was built without US chips such as the Intel Xeon or Phi processors often found in supercomputers. The United States clamped down on the export of high-end processors to China in April last year.

Instead, the TaihuLight uses 64-bit reduced instruction set computing (RISC) processors, the older 1.45GHz ShenWei SW1600 16-core chip with 140 gigaflops performance [pdf] developed by the Shanghai High Performance Integrated Circuit Design Centre.

It is augmented by a smaller number of the newer ShenWei SW26010 with 260 cores, offering a performance of three teraflops.

TaihuLight is equipped with 1.3 petabytes of DDR-3 memory, and uses the Sunway Network PCIe 3.0 interconect with a maximum of 12GBps speed for message passing interface communications.

Despite the vast amount of processing cores and speedy floating point performance, the TaihuLight uses only 15.3 megawatts while running the Linpack benchmark. This is less than the 17.8 MW that the slower Tianhe-2 consumes.

TaihuLight runs the Sunway Raise OS Linux distribution and is installed at China's National Supercomputing Centre in Wuxi, near Shanghai.

The supercomputer will be available to Chinese and foreign researchers. It runs advanced manufacturing with computational fluid dynamics and computer aided engineering applications, as well as earth system modelling and weather forecasting, life science and big data analytics.

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